MIAMI — Trance and electro house music reigned supreme at the final day of Ultra Music Festival, closing out the annual three-day dance music mega-fest that saw more than 200,000 people walk through the gates at Miami's Bayfront Park.
Sunday, Carl Cox handed over the Cocoon's "mega-structure" stage to Dutch trance-music icon Armin van Buuren, who continued his globe-spanning celebration of the 550th episode of his "A State of Trance" radio show, streaming epic, dazzling sets of some of his larger-than-life trance-music friends. Gareth Emery, ATB, Ferry Corsten, Tritonal, and Sander van Doorn were but some of the big stars who had fans packing Cocoon right up to the stage's back gates.
Earlier in the day, 2012 MTV Woodies closing act Steve Aoki set the Ultra Main Stage ablaze with his driving electro-metal house show, and a few of his recent Wonderland album collaborators helped him celebrate the occasion. Lil Jon launched the set into overdrive early, joining Aoki for "Turbulence" and more, and singers Polina, Wynter Gordon and Alyssa Palmer all hit the stage to perform alongside Aoki. Before ending his set with an inflatable boat ride across a sea of tens of thousands of fans, as he traditionally does, Aoki caked two lucky fans in the front row of the audience — with dexterity, we'd like to add, right in the face from more than seemingly 15 feet away.
Sunday night marked the UMF return of dance-music king David Guetta, certainly the biggest crossover brand in EDM. While one might assume that after a throttling set by Knife Party followed by excellent performances by Kaskade and Fedde Le Grand, fans might have been a bit fatigued by then. If they were, they didn't show it.
"Can I hear my party people?" Guetta asked as he took the stage. The audience roared back as he launched into Alesso's remix of Guetta's "Titanium."
Notably, after the French superstar began a mix of little broski Afrojack's "Can't Stop Me Now," Afrojack, Lil Jon, Aoki and Italian DJ/producer (and Madonna MDNA collaborator) Benny Benassi all joined their friend onstage, causing pandemonium. They posed for a group photo for the history books, and the set continued, only with the volume lower.
"Every time I play a track at Ultra, it brings me luck!" Guetta told the audience. "And I'm going to start a new electronic label, and this is the first track on the label.
"It's with Nicky Romero, and it's called 'Metropolis,' " Guetta continued, before pumping the volume back up and letting the audience take in the electro-house banger that both he and Romero have been previewing in their sets recently.
Throughout his set, Guetta maintained a bouncing tide of tens of thousands of screaming fans with his typical ease. There were a couple of new stadium house tracks in addition to known crowd-pleasers like Swedish House Mafia's "Greyhound," with the addition of Example's "Changed the Way You Kissed Me" vocal, and Avicii's "Le7els," with Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" vocal.
Before ending his set with a remix of "Turn Me On," his single with Nicki Minaj, and finally "Without You," his Usher hit, Guetta turned down the volume again and asked folks to take out their cell phones. As a sea of small lit-up screens formed around the UMF Main Stage, he made a remark that would underscore just how big the Ultra Music Festival and electronic dance music are in 2012.
"Wow! Thousands and thousands and thousands of people partying together feeling like one," Guetta remarked. "Do you realize what's going on in America? How our music is taking over?
"I never imagined that one day this would happen," he added. "But this is only the beginning, right?"
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